Chat with Ed Hinton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com NASCAR writer Ed Hinton will stop by to talk about all the latest news and notes from the track.
Hinton began his career covering NASCAR in the 1970's working for the Orlando Sentinel. He has also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, where he worked until leaving in January 2008.
Send your questions now and join Hinton Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ed Hinton (2:00 PM)
Good afternoon all -- and good morning to you folks in Arizona who have joined us. Just about lunchtime in Oklahoma and Texas (aka Baja Oklahoma). Getting strong reaction already on my column that just posted, about how NASCAR's not going to change the COT, regardless . . .
dz (phx, az)
ed, great article. like i've said before, i've only been a fan to nascar for about 8 years. i hear the faithful of nascar complain about the suits of nascar not listening. my first question is have the nascar suits ever listened to the fans? second, if the suits don't listen what makes them any different than any other suits of professional sports??? i don't think the comissioners of the nfl, nba or mlb listen to the fans. your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:03 PM)
The rule of thumb is that the suits listen to the fans if the issue isn't going to cost NASCAR money, and they don't listen if the price of listening is too high. For example, they listened to the fans who were booing and throwing things when drivers won under the caution flag. That's what started the green-white-checkered. If they change the COT, they'd have to get more and better people to police it. Bottom line on the COT is it's very easy to police.
IRL fans are mad at Nascar for sabotaging their title sponsor annoucement last Thursday with the Danica news, do they have a legit gripe or are they just being snobbish?
Ed Hinton (2:05 PM)
Oh, I think the IRL is probably mad at NASCAR all the time now -- about 15 years too late. They should have realized all along NASCAR's not going to do them any favors, but Tony George got in too deep with NASCAR. No, the IRL doesn't have much to stand on this time. It's too obscure now to challenge the other leagues. Besides, I know Danica's people were doing the best they could to defer to the IRL.
RAYGORDONREID (FLAGSTAFF AZ 86601)
QUESTION TO ED HINTON AT 2.20 PM HI ED WHO YOUHAVE AT PHOENIX SUNDAY
Ed Hinton (2:07 PM)
The interesting thing to me is that all the top three drivers in points have done well at Phoenix in the past. Martin of course won in the spring, but Johnson and Gordon will both be fine there. I'm picking JJ, because that's precisely the kind of thing he and Chad do when it looks like they're down.
Jeremy (New York)
Hi Ed. I've always wondered why theoretically independent NASCAR television commentators constantly reinforce the sponsor branding throughout a broadcast. Matt Kenseth doesn't just come in for a tank of gas, he gets "Sunoco." Do they get compensated for mentioning series sponsors like Goodyear, Sunoco or others? It's such a specific behavior to NASCAR commentators that you really don't see in any other sport, and a behavior that I always found odd.Thanks.
Ed Hinton (2:10 PM)
Well, two things here: I'm only an occasional TV guy so I don't understand all the protocol. I do know that race-telecast people work a little differently from us web site types. If you look at the NFL, they have certain updates sponsored by bla bla bla. And their announcers do a lot of programming notes, which is essentially the same thing as advertising. Play by play and color analysts do that on most sports -- it's just that NASCAR has a lot more commercial interests involved and therefore you notice it a lot more. Bottom line, as I understand TV protocol, sponsor mention is OK.
Why isn't every wall a car could possibly hit covered with SAFER? The inside wall JJ hit at Texas didn't have SAFER, nor did the portion of pit road wall Hamlin hit at Fontana. Why aren't all racing wall surfaces covered with SAFER?
Ed Hinton (2:12 PM)
Bottom line, money. They put the SAFER barriers where they think the worst hits are likely to happen. But more and more we're seeing that they're having to put in SAFER in a sort of horses-are-out-of the barn way. Remember Jeff Gordon's crash at Vegas a couple of years ago, and they rushed to put in SAFER where he hit. Ask me, they should have them all the way around, inside and outside walls, every track. But it's a money deal, best I can tell.
ronnie (salisbury, md.)
I love NASCAR, but i find it strange that NASCAR and the fans seem to want JJ to get worse instead of the other teams sucking it up and getting better. What's wrong with outworking and out driving everyone else--and winning as a result. I root for Mark Martin, but i would never want to see JJ race worse. I want martin to race better. It's like our current government wanting to punish successful working people in order to reward the sloth of the lazy or non-workers. You get out of life what you put into it. It's the same with racing--work harder do better. Maybe the PGA should only let Tiger use 11 clubs instead of the 14 allowed. He probably would still win. We should be celebrating the genius of JJ and his crew chief and team--not looking for ways to slow them down. Just wonder what you think.
Ed Hinton (2:13 PM)
Ronnie, I'll let your excellent, thoughtful comment speak for itself. Wish all NASCAR fans had the sense of fairness and crediting work that you do.
Darby's right on one thing - I think the widespread fan hatred of the wing is largely, as he said, a perception issue. People don't like it because it reminds them of import tuner cars. That was the main complaint back when they introduced it, and people still whine about it today. I prefer the touring car look of the wing myself, but I'm well outnumbered.
Ed Hinton (2:15 PM)
You're probably right about the perception of import cars. And I'm happy to post the comments of those who DO like the COT.
Ed, Great article today. Can you ever remember a time when fans didn't complain about boring races? I've been watching since 1987, and I don't believe that NASCAR decided to suddenly throw a switch and make the races boring. Non-fans have always complained about "watching cars go around in a circle", and fans have always had gripes about the quality of the racing, haven't they?
Ed Hinton (2:17 PM)
Interesting point. I've been covering NASCAR since 1974 and I don't recall fans being as up in arms as they have been the past two years -- but then again, fans have much better avenues of feedback than they've ever had before. Maybe if we'd had e-mail and ESPN Conversations back in the day, people would have complained that Petty and Pearson were stinking up the show by winning too much.
What did you the of the National Enquirer article about Jr? I'm guessing it is complete B.S.
Ed Hinton (2:18 PM)
Frankly I didn't read it. That grotesque headline was enough to repulse me. Maybe I'm one of the last holdouts, but I'm not going to let my journalism be affected by that tabloid stuff.
Greetings, Mr Hinton. Just want to say thanks for the awesome NASCAR NOW spot on Bud Moore. Two quick questions: How much would you bet on the 48 attaining a top-3 finish this weekend? I'm hypothetically betting the farm. Why won't NASCAR let the Cup teams go back to shock packages instead of the bump-stop crap? The racing would be better. Hmm. Maybe that's my answer.
Ed Hinton (2:20 PM)
On Bud Moore, thanks, YAR. In 35 years of covering NASCAR I don't think I've ever been prouder to have been a small part of a piece. Bud himself was magnificent and I thought our TV editors did a wonderful job. On JJ, I'm at the age where too many tuition bills have ended my betting days. But back in the day I'd have put a bundle on the 48 as a top 3 this weekend, just like I used to advise folks to bet the Raiders in the Super Bowl because they were great when the money's on the line. So is Chad.
Steve(Kentucky) [via mobile]
Do you think NASCAR is getting too far from its roots and if so, could that be the reason for some fans lack of interest?
Ed Hinton (2:21 PM)
Well, in keeping with my column theme today, I think the fans' perception is that NASCAR had gone too far from its roots. And that makes it reality.
Fred (al) [via mobile]
So who do you think penske is lookin at to crew chief Brad k. Ron malec Tony jr. Andy P. jeff from the 24 that is the name of jeff gordons car chief right?
Ed Hinton (2:22 PM)
I'd be stunned if Roger woos anyone away from Hendrick. Those guys just don't leave unless they don't fit the Hendrick culture.
Benjie (Mississippi State, Ms)
EdWho's your pick!!!Ms. State vs AlabamaOle Miss vs Tn
Ed Hinton (2:23 PM)
State historically plays Bama tough, but alas, ends up losing. Afraid Tennessee's turned their thing around now, and Papa Monte will have a defensive package to rattle Snead.
ED, OLD SCHOOL NU SCHOOL ANYTIME SOON?tell the producers we want MORE of it. THX ED take care.
Ed Hinton (2:24 PM)
The producers always tell Marty and me they love it; Marty and I really enjoy it. Everybody says the fans enjoy it. Bottom line, I'm not sure why it's not a more regular thing.
Ed, what are your thoughts on racing finally returning to North Wilkesboro?
Ed Hinton (2:26 PM)
It'll be nice to see the track reopen, but I think people are largely dreaming. Highly unlikely NASCAR will ever go back there. This particular thing, bringing in the ASA, reminds me of 20-something years ago when they tried to revive Atlanta's very historic 1-mile dirt track, Lakewood Speedway. They had a race or two, but there weren't enough people who sensed enough history to support it.
JJ HILL JR (TEXAS)
hey ed, sending this in abit early but i wanna know if nicole manske from nascar now is single. MAN SHES HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!shes also a very good host and does a great job covering the sport.
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
Now this is like my column today, where I begin, "Please don't kill the messenger."Sorry, single guys, but Nicole is engaged to IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe. Next time she anchors, watch her left hand, which features a diamond the size of the Sprint Cup trophy.
It seems that Lance McGrew is taking a lot of heat for the 88 problems, but what if Dale Jr. just isn't as good of a driver as he use to be? I saw a video of the final laps of the the fall 01' talladega race and Dale Jr. was making moves that he wouldn't even dream of making today
Ed Hinton (2:29 PM)
I don't think Junior's as far off his game as you say here, but I do think a lot of his problem is that he's sort of a deer in the headlights, pretty frustrated that he can't fulfill all the expectations. And I think that's affecting his driving.
ANY WORD REGARDING THE #1 CAR AND IF BASS PRO SHOPS WILL BE THE SPONSOR OF WILL THEY MOVE TO THE 39?
Ed Hinton (2:30 PM)
I'm seeing things about Starbucks and somebody else going on the 1 car.
Eric (Tampa, FL)
I've always thought it was interesting to hear somebody like Tim Richmond say he was better off in stock cars than open wheel because he tore up too much stuff and thought he wouldn't last if he stuck around, despite being 1980 Indy 500 rookie of the year. Could Danica find a similiar outcome in her attempt at stock cars that she might actually like driving them more than Indycars?
Ed Hinton (2:31 PM)
Man, you and I think alike. I've been trying to tell people Danica's record in open wheel may not have any bearing, one way or the other, on how she does in NASCAR. I think she's gonna LOVE being able to hit back when somebody hits her on the track. She might just have 30 feuds going after her first few races.
Sam Hornish (Charlotte, NC)
Should I wreck Johnson again this weekend and really tighten up this chase? I'm thinking lap 2 this week!
Ed Hinton (2:32 PM)
Now, Sam, we all know it depends on how you qualify. If you start beside him, you've got a shot from the green flag on.
BIGGER NASCAR STORY OF THE DECADE - The legend (M Martin)finally wins his first championship after finishing second so many times or JJ wins his 4th ?
Ed Hinton (2:33 PM)
Inside NASCAR, Martin might be the bigger story. Outside NASCAR, JJ four-peats would get much more attention.
JTF (Bayonne, NJ)
Joey Logano has been touted as The Next Big Thing for years now... if that's the case, how long before he makes the Chase? 2010? 2011?
Ed Hinton (2:34 PM)
He may take a while. I'd guess 2011, earliest.
Do you think the first outcome has tarnished Rogers in Kyle's eyes, or was the rest of the race enough to keep his spirits up. They made adjustments and stayed fast, where as before it seemed like the adjustments took them all over the place. Then again I suppose a happy Kyle is an easy to adjust for Kyle anyway.
Ed Hinton (2:35 PM)
It fits the crowd NASCAR THINKS it has. Haven't heard about next year, just conjecturing that this would be an indication. Also might be a test case by Starbucks.
Tim Richmond, thx for bringin him up Eric from Tampa.Man that boy can wheel, If you ask me, he was the only one who could intimidate the Intimidator .GOD BLESS YOU TIM RICHMOND WE ALL MISS YOU
Ed Hinton (2:36 PM)
Great Richmond-Earnhardt story: In 1987, when Earnhardt was winning all the races and leaving everybody wrecked and furious in his wake, Richmond said he was going to paint the hood of his car in Wrangler No. 3 colors -- "so when Earnhardt sees me in his mirror he'll think it's himself, get scared, and move over."
robert (ft lauderdale)
Once again, awesome video on Bud Moore. 4 Purples Hearts and 2 Bronze Stars are worth more than any number of Cup Championships.How does NASCAR expect to gain new fans when the cars are so weird looking. They don't look like anything or represent anything. Neither do F-1 cars but at least F1 represents the best in technology and the best engineered brands ie: Ferrari, Benz etc.
Ed Hinton (2:38 PM)
Thanks on the Bud Moore video. I'll let your comments on racing speak for themselves, in that they're very good, and very typical of the way fans feel nowadays.
Hey Ed. What do you think of Denny's comments last weekend about J Gordon complaining to Nascar about bump drafting. Be easy now, I'm a huge Denny fan.
Ed Hinton (2:39 PM)
Don't worry, I really like Denny's candor. I think it was just fine that he came out and said what a lot of us suspected. Gordon has been the biggest opponent of bump-drafting all along, and even once said Dale Jr. was the worst offender.
JTF (Bayonne, NJ)
I think if Hornish wrecks JJ again, he becomes NASCAR's newest Most Popular driver. Just ask the guys who were dancing next to JJ's wrecked car at Texas.
Ed Hinton (2:40 PM)
Might be just the opposite. Old DW, in his day, was the biggest villain in NASCAR until Rusty wrecked him in The Winston of 1989, and from there Darrell was perceived as a victim and the fans have liked him ever since. JJ gets victimized again, same thing might happen to him.
I guess there was a glitch since you answered a different question, so here goes again: Do you think the first outcome has tarnished Rogers in Kyle's eyes, or was the rest of the race enough to keep his spirits up? They made adjustments and stayed fast, where as before it seemed like the adjustments took them all over the place. Then again I suppose a happy Kyle is an easy to adjust for Kyle anyway.
Ed Hinton (2:42 PM)
Oh, I think Kyle had to be thrilled with the performance of the car. Fuel mileage calculations are easy enough to correct. Rogers had that car working beautifully, and that's the main thing.
Jack (Brooklyn, NY)
Ed, it seems like all the other writers on this site tend to sympathize with Dale Earnhardt Jr over his lost season. Considering your relationship with his father, I don't believe you have it out for Junior, but you don't seem to feel too bad for the guy and I'm just wondering why that is?
Ed Hinton (2:43 PM)
Oh, I sympathize with Junior a lot. Maybe I sound anti sometimes because I just get tired of everybody blaming his crew chiefs, etc. He has to take some of the responsibility, and he does, and I admire him for that.
dz (phx, az)
ed, since i don't know much about the old school racing. what would you suggest on ways of becoming informed?
Ed Hinton (2:44 PM)
Excuse the self promotion here, but if Amazon.com still has copies -- they'll be cheap -- I would suggest my 2001 book, "Daytona: From the Birth of Speed to the Death of the Man in Black." The whole thing was written with the new influx of NASCAR fans in mind, to help them catch up on the history.
If Harvick leaves RCR after 2010, what's the liklihood he takes KHI to the Cup side?
Ed Hinton (2:45 PM)
Unlikely, unless Delana makes the call: she's the real business person in KHI. I think Kevin will land with his bud Tony Stewart and that'll be all the Cup action he wants.
Where do rank Kasey Kahne and Kenny Frances crewchief driver tandem?Obviously JJ and Knaus and Mark n Gustufson are 1 n 2
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
Considering the resources they have, I'd rate Kahne and Francis right alongside JJ-Knaus and Mark-Gustafson. The real difference is that Kahne and Francis work for struggling RPM, and the other two work with the boundless resources of you know who.
Rob (Colorado Springs)
I honestly think that Dale Jr is completely lost without Big E. Your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
No, I don't think that. Big E actually put a lot more pressure on him than people realize.
Bill (Winchester, VA)
Great article Ed, I couldn't agree with you more! NASCAR has made a lot of positive changes over the years. The double-file restarts is a recent example. But the COT I'd have to give two thumbs down! Like you mentioned in your article, fans watch these races, not computers! So NASCAR can take their loop data and throw it out the window! Anyway, do you see Martin or Gordon catching Johnson? I'm thinking Johnson's bad luck continues...maybe a blown tire or engine this weekend?
Ed Hinton (2:48 PM)
At my house we've got this inside joke about "Loopy Data."
There were rumors that Dale Jr's team at HMS did not want him and Eury, Jr. there? Why? I know that Dale has had a bad year, but do you think it was b/c of the team?
Ed Hinton (2:49 PM)
No, they all wanted them there -- their primary advocate being Jeff Gordon. They wanted him there because he'd draw sponsorship and bring his following to the Hendrick team.
JTF (Bayonne, NJ)
Just finished your story about car changes not happening and saw about the empty seats in Texas and I've seen empty seats at other locations too. What tracks have been having the most problems with filling the stands at the NSCS races this year?
Ed Hinton (2:50 PM)
Well, just about all of them except Bristol. Talladega the week before Texas had big gaps in the front stretch grandstands that I've never seen the likes of -- at least since before they reconfigured the grandstands there.
Ed, why in the world does Delana Harvick wear the team fire suit? I have nothing against her, it just seems kinda weird. No other "significant other" does that.....
Ed Hinton (2:51 PM)
As I mentioned a bit earlier, she's the real business mind in the family. She has a deeper understanding of the racing than perhaps any other spouse. Guess you could say "she wears the firesuit in the family."
Jennny (Elizabeth town LA)
Hi Ed who is the driver you would pick to win the chase for the cup?
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
Oh, gotta go with JJ. I think it's as close now as it's going to get, unless Martin pours it on and wins at Phoenix.
Andy (Dayton,Oh )
Who do you see making a better comeback next year, Jr or Harvick.
Ed Hinton (2:53 PM)
Probably Junior. We know Hendrick as a whole is strong, and 88 is the only problematic unit. On the other hand, RCR, all across the board, has a lot of catching up to do.
dz (phx, az)
thanks for the clarification ed! like the espn writers have mentioned before...it's all about the money. how does the nascar fan base compare in numbers to other racing organizations?
Ed Hinton (2:54 PM)
Far bigger than anything else in North America, but probably is woefully behind F1 worldwide. I always compare the two leagues to the NFL and soccer: The NFL is huge here but nowhere else, like NASCAR. Soccer is huge everywhere but here, like F1.
Will Danica be out at the track this weekend or are the Hendrick folks going to keep her under wraps until an official press conference takes place?
Ed Hinton (2:55 PM)
Believe me, Danica's not one to go hang out in public at a track for fun. She guards her privacy. Even when she starts racing, the media mobs are probably going to be her biggest problem. So she won't go out for the fun of it.
Hey Ed, has Robin Miller spoken to you recently about the Danica to Nascar stuff, I know he got on your case pretty good about two months ago when you broke at the story at Atlanta?
Ed Hinton (2:56 PM)
Robin and I have exchanged e-mails about other issues, but not Danica. I've just been certain all along that she was coming to NASCAR; the info I had was too solid.
Jake (Las Vegas)
Speaking of the COT, Montoya was on the conference call and loves it. Could that be because he had no bad habits to break regarding the old car?
Ed Hinton (2:57 PM)
Exactly. The guys who have little or no experience in the old cars are fine.
I know a lot of people are down on Brad K. recently, but I like the fact that he actually RACES out there and doesn't just "ride around for points" like some guys do. Isn't that what racing used to be about?
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
Well, K runs on the ragged edge between aggressive and reckless. I don't think anyone has reminded me more of Dale Earnhardt when he started out in Cup than K does. DW in his prime used to say, "With Earnhardt, every lap is a controlled crash." Pretty much the same with K. And people love it.
i cant wait to see how you defend kyle busch for getting nailed 25 points for cheating....I dont understand how he won the race but cheated? why wouldnt they take away the win and give it to the 2nd place driver...?
How come the media bashed Kyle for not talking after he ran out of gas at Texas when the same thing happened to Dale jr and we didn't see a Dale jr post race interview?
Ed Hinton (2:59 PM)
I didn't know anybody bashed Kyle. I didn't. But then I was focused on covering JJ's situation. If I'd written the race story, I certainly wouldn't have bashed Kyle for taking a hike.
At Texas, Pops Eury said," Brad is the worst driver I've ever seen on re-starts". Does Pops know something that Penske doesn't?
Ed Hinton (3:00 PM)
Pops tends to live in the moment. He hates losing K. And if K had gotten a good restart, he might have been "the best driver I've ever seen . . ."
Weston (Wichita )
The COT was originally designed not to get in the air. So when Ryan Newman got turned around backwards at Talladega none of the roof flaps worked because of the way the air flowed over the back wing. Would a spoiler work better for these cars?
Ed Hinton (3:01 PM)
I think so, and so do others. But John Darby flatly denied that in the current column I've got on the web site. He says the wing actually did a better job than the spoiler would have.
Silvia (Orlando )
Why did Nascar penalize Kyle's #18 for a PRE-Race " inproperly secured weight" instead of just telling the crew to secure it?
Ed Hinton (3:02 PM)
Because NASCAR just has to air all its dirty laundry all the time. Time was when they'd just say, "Go fix that, and bring it back through inspection." But no, hell no, now they've got to show off on every little infraction. Guess they think they're getting more publicity that way.
we always hear about tracks not filling the seats, which tracks have no trouble selling out, recession or not?>
Ed Hinton (3:04 PM)
There's not one that doesn't have trouble selling out now. The Bristol folks told me they worked about 10 times as hard as they've ever worked to sell out their races. Track president Jeff Byrd's hair is almost totally gray now.
Ed Hinton (3:04 PM)
Well, I'm really sorry to have to go, but the ol' clock on the wall sez . . . All you folks have been great. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by.